It is the 22nd century. Interstellar travel is possible, but colossally expensive, so humankind’s efforts are focused on the only nearby Earth-like world. Isis is rich with plant and animal life, but every molecule of it is spectacularly toxic to humans. The whole planet is a permanent Hot Zone. Zoe Fisher was born to explore Isis. Literally. She has been cloned and genetically engineered to face its terrors. But there are secrets implanted within her that not even she suspects – and the planet itself contains revelations that will change our understanding of life in the universe.
The aim of Laurie Paton and his colleagues was a goal which no other scientists had ever attained – the creation of a living entity by means of synthetic biological structure. But, working on their isolated island base, they unleashed a force for which they had never bargained, and against which they found themselves powerless. They created, not the entity they aimed at, but a window in Time, and, unexpectedly, a channel through which the Forces of Darkness assailed them.
Personality has a physical basis and what is in itself bio-chemical can be modified by bio-chemical means. The new formula could dissolve a man’s personality into a state of plasticity from which almost any kind of temperament could be re-fashioned. Worlds were at war. With technologies resting in an uneasy equilibrium victory or defeat depended upon morale. Morale depended upon personality. Personality depended upon the new formula! A weapon as insidious as that could work both ways. An unscrupulous government could use it to control men’s minds to a degree which had never been possible before. The Automatic State lay just around the corner. Bill Stokes and his underground movement were faced with a savage dilemma. Disloyalty could mean defeat for their own people, but to keep faith with the present regime could lead to the end of individual human independence.
In the 22nd century a combination of computer-augmented bio-feedback and chemo-therapy techniques has given man the ability not only to heal himself, but to change himself – to alter his very shape at will. But Form Change has its darker aspects, ranging from unautorized experimentation on human subjects to a threat to the very essence of humanity – a SIGHT OF PROTEUS.
Lord Tedric of the Marshes, ex-Corpsman and interplanetary warrior, faces a crucial mission: to crush the threat of the Destructive Forces by capturing their agent on the Bioman sphere, the ruthless Black Knight Fra Villion Tedric’s crew are bound together by the strong loyalty of outcasts: Yod Cartwright, ex-pirate; Juvi, a prostitute turned expert pilor; Ky-shan the exiled Wykzl; Wilson, the renegade robot; and Pal Galmain, brave but banished Knight of the noble order of Vemplars. Tedric mjust warn the Bio,en that their castle is a gatewhile for the annihilation gathering in the grey depths of space, but who will believe the word of a barbarian against the lightning whipsword of Fra Villion?
The Humanx Commonwealth: Book Seven. They call it the Drowning World. It is Fluva, a planet on the fringes of the Commonwealth where it rains torrentially, ceaselessly, and maddeningly for all but one month of the Fluvan year. Chief Administrator Lauren Matthias is fairly new to the position. Her primary goal: keeping Fluva’s indigenous species, the warlike Sakuntala, and its immigrant species, the timid but hardworking Deyzara, from annihilating one another. The wettest place on Fluva is Viisiiviisii, an immense, mostly unexplored jungle. Thanks to the endless rains and humid conditions, exotic animals and plants have thrived there, many of them deadly predators. Yet the same evolutionary process responsible for creating toxic creatures has made the jungle a treasure trove of undiscovered botanicals potentially useful in engineering everything from pharmaceuticals to perfumes. A man can get rich there. Or die trying. Bio-prospector Sadrach Hasselemoga has come to the jungle to get rich – if he survives the terrain once his sabotaged ship goes down. When a Sakuntala and a Deyzara are dispatched by Matthias to rescue the unfortunate soul, their ship crashes, too. Now, in order to survive, the three unlikely allies must do something that no one has ever done before: walk out of the Viisiiviisii. Meanwhile, in what passes for civilization, long-simmering tensions between Sakuntala and Deyzara erupt into violence, threatening Matthias’s official position of neutrality – and her life. Behind the violence, Matthias detects a mysterious presence, one related to Shadrach’s disappearance. But how are the two related? The answer, when it comes, will send shock waves through the entire Commonwealth…and beyond.